Brian's sourdough breads consist of three main ingredients: flour, water, and salt. There are no additives, no preservatives, and no added yeast. Our bread is made the old fashioned way; in small batches and primarily by hand.
Starter is the base of sourdough bread and acts as the leavening agent. The starter is a natural yeast derived from a mixture of flour and water and must be fed daily. The starter is then combined with more flour and water and this is known as the "mother" dough, or sponge. The sponge proofs, or sits, a minimum of 12 to 14 hours before being used to make the bread.
To make the bread, the sponge is combined with flour, water, and salt, then mixed to the appropriate consistency so it can be formed into various shapes and sizes. Most of our breads are hearth breads, which means no pans are used. The dough is shaped by hand, set on a flat baking tray, and then placed on a baking rack. The rack gets covered with a plastic sheet and placed in a temperature controlled box known as a proof box.
Because there is no added yeast, it takes approximately 16 to 21 hours for the bread to rise. This is the process known as proofing. During this process, the natural yeast thrives on the sugars, developing the "sour" taste we know and love. This is akin to the fermentation process used in wine making.
After the bread has had time to completely rise, each loaf is hand scored. This technique gives the bread its unique pattern and unwanted expansion during the baking process. The bread is then baked to a prescribed color. Along with achieving the appropriate color, steam is injected into the oven to give the bread its glossy, bubbly appearance.
Once the bread has baked and cooled, it is staged for slicing and packaging. The now hard crust will become soft after being placed in plastic. To get a "right out of the oven crust" place the bread in a warm over for approximately 10 minutes.